Van Halen’s ‘Women And Children First’ came between the impact of a stunning debut and a tepid follow up, and in many ways was superior to the debut.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Van Halen
ALBUM: Women And Children First
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: WB 3415
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: David Lee Roth – vocals * Eddie Van Halen – guitars * Michael Anthony – bass * Alex Van Halen – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 And The Cradle Will Rock * 02 Everybody Wants Some * 03 Fools * 04 Romeo Delight * 05 Tora Tora * 06 Loss Of Control * 07 Take Your Whiskey Home * 08 Could This Be Magic? * 09 In A Simple Rhyme
Much like 1981’s ‘Fair Warning’, ‘Women And Children First’ is a piece of classic US hard rock that seems to have been swept under the carpet a BIT. True you can turn rock radio on every day and be assured of hearing ‘And The Cradle Will Rock’ and ‘Everybody Wants Some’, but aside from those two, it’s been a fairly non existent album given the passing of time.
Van Halen’s ‘Women And Children First’ came between the impact of a stunning debut and a tepid follow up, and in many ways was superior to the debut. The riffs were sharper and heavier, and Roth had really settled into the act of a frontman god. What’s more significant is how far ahead of most bands VH were production and sound wise.
I find it staggering this is now twenty three years old (at the time of writing). Maybe that’s due to the lack of keyboards. More unbelievably, the whole album was recorded in two and a half weeks, amazing considering the lack of output from VH in the last decade!
The anthems come thick and fast, starting with ‘And The Cradle Will Rock…’, which maintains a mid paced feel throughout, Roth stealing the show with his eccentric vocals, wisecracking to the very last note, although Eddie contributes his massive wall of sound riffs no end. It’s overplayed on US radio but ‘Everybody Wants Some’ remains enjoyable nonetheless, Anthony’s bass rumbling in an Entwistle like manner. Consider this the starting point for every aspiring party metal band of the 80’s.
‘Fools’ is lengthy at six minutes, a good romp with Eddie delivering the unfathomable solos people wanted to hear. The key moment perhaps is ‘Romeo Delight’, the opening riff barrage among the heaviest you’ll ever hear. This is heavy metal. If you ever wondered why Kiss were redundant in 1980, this provides all the clues.
It doesn’t let up, ‘Loss Of Control’ all speed and flash, again making acts like The Who look like a joke. Not much needs to be said about ‘Take Your Whiskey Home’ except that it’s unrivalled good time hard rock. Although ‘Could This Be Magic’ takes a radical turn, a bluesy acoustic ditty which indicates these guys weren’t afraid to try anything. ‘In A Simple Rhyme’ is more melodic, traces of AOR, especially in those famed harmonies, but overall too heavy to fit the term.
You only begin to realise how bad Van Hagar was when stacked up next to this. Early VH had all the urgency, vibrancy and talent in the world. The music was free-flowing and unrestricted, something they maintained until the day Roth left. It’s not difficult therefore to see who the spark behind the scene was. The 1980’s promised much as albums like this cropped up at the onset of the decade, and VH themselves delivered – until 1988 at least.
And The Cradle Will Rock
Everybody Wants Some